A Minors Obsession

Minor League All Questions Answered

The Minor League Baseball season is nearly two months in, so what better time to bring out an All Questions Answered topic here at Redleg Nation? If you’re new to the site, it’s pretty simple: Ask your question(s) in the comments section and I’ll give you an answer. While my specialty is in the minor leagues, I’m more than willing to share my thoughts on the big league stuff as well.

You will need to follow a few simple rules to participate:

The rules for the All Questions Answered part of today.

  1. Try to avoid questions that will require me to look up answers (such as: Who was the last guy to steal 25 bags and hit 25 home runs in the system).
  2. Try to avoid overly long answer-type questions. I tend to give thorough and detailed answers as it is, so please don’t have me type out a novel.
  3. Each user can ask up to three questions.
  4. Ask your questions before 9PM and I will be sure to answer it. If you ask after 9PM on Wednesday, then I can’t guarantee that I will answer your question.

I probably won’t begin answering questions until around 11am, but feel free to filling up the comments with them before that.

53 thoughts on “Minor League All Questions Answered

  1. Is Mahle the real deal?
    She’d long when does he become top hitting prospect for org?
    Do you think that the Reds have a problem with developing major league quality pitchers?

  2. Tyler mahle is he the real deal?
    She’d long.. is he now our top 2b prospect and when will he be mlb ready?
    Do the Reds have a problem with developing pitchers that can handle the major leagues?

    • 1. I guess that depends on your definition of the real deal. It might be very different from mine. I think he’s a starting pitcher in the big leagues, but a guy that’s probably more of a #4 than a #2. He pounds the zone with his fastball and generally locates it well, but his secondary stuff is average across the board.

      2. Yes, and he’s still probably at least a year out. Look for him in Double-A in the second half of the season.

      3. Not any more of a problem than other teams do. I think that they did have a problem with it a while ago, but I believe those days are behind them.

    • He actually was called up earlier this year, but didn’t get into any games. And the Reds didn’t give up on him as much as they just moved him in a deal. At the time he was roughly 7th or 8th on their minor league starting pitcher list in terms of prospects. While it might be nice to have him right now simply because of the insane number of injuries the team has had, he’d be ranked about 20th overall in the Reds farm system as it sits right now. While there’s nothing wrong with that, the team probably isn’t feeling the hurt of him being a Phillies pitcher right now.

  3. What do you think the Reds will do with Winker now that Schebler, Duvall, and Hamilton seem like all solid outfielders?

    • Keep him and see what happens in the corners. Duvall is pretty a low OBP guy for his career, so let’s see what happens over the course of the year. Schebler’s got less than a full year of playing time under his belt, too. Hamilton doesn’t factor into the equation at all because he’s not blocking Winker in any way (Schebler will never be a center fielder, so he’s not sliding over there to create a spot).

      If Winker starts showing the power he did prior to 2016, he’s probably an upgrade to either guy. While he won’t hit for the kind of power they do, his on-base ability will be an enormous boost for the team.

  4. Can you talk about Tyler Mahle? The reports are he is a supreme command and control guy. How good can he be ? Is Mike Leake a comp?

    Who is Shed Long and is he the new 2b of the future?

    • I think Leake and Mahle are very different. Leake had better movement, but didn’t throw quite as hard as Mahle does at times. Leake’s slider was also a better secondary offering than Mahle’s shown. Mahle’s a control guy, for sure, but he’s not a soft tosser. He’s been up to 98, though that’s a bit rare for him. I talked a little about Mahle above and think he’s probably more of a #4 than a #2 kind of guy because of the secondary stuff.

      Shed Long – More of a bat than a defender, though he can handle second base, just don’t expect to be wowed there. Plenty of speed, more pop than you generally expect from a guy who is 5′ 8″ tall. He’s short, but he’s not small. He’s a strong dude. I think right now he’s probably the best bet to eventually take over second, but don’t give up on Herrera yet either. I’m not sure what’s going on with him right now in Louisville, but his history tells a very different story of the player he is. But, Shed could be breathing down his neck in terms of playing time rather quickly in Triple-A if he doesn’t turn things around.

  5. Why has Reds mgmt thrown up a hodgepodge of guys into the starting rotation with very little record of success in the minors instead of trying out guys with success in A and AA ball (Mahle, Ross, Castillo)? The Rockies appear to have jumped ahead filling out the rotation from the AA ranks. Is 2017 still a throwaway year despite a fairly competitive NL central situation…thus we allow the aforementioned to continue seasoning into 2018?

    • Because it’s a very, very long way from A-ball and AA to the Major Leagues. Luis Castillo entered the year with three AA starts. Tyler Mahle has been on an incredible run this year, but didn’t exactly crush Double-A entering the season (and he’s not on the 40-man, which always comes into play. And which him, and other true prospects, you don’t want to use an option year for no real reason, so you go with guys like Asher Wojciechowski, who you can remove from the 40-man if you need to later in the year without the worry of possibly losing out on a guy you may be planning to have 4 years down the road).

      Eventually we will see Mahle and Castillo up. It just doesn’t make sense to do so right now. While we don’t know exactly how everyone is going to pitch when they get back, the team is planning on having Garrett, Bailey, Finnegan and Romano all back this year (Romano and Garrett likely very soon, with Bailey seemingly only a few weeks away, too).

      And for as much as I like to see the Cubs where they are…. the odds are that come September, they’ll be leading the division by 8 games. On paper, they are just better than everyone else in the division and it’s not particularly close right now.

  6. I’m fascinated by Shed long. The two questions I have are how is his defense and are his power numbers sustainable? Thanks and always enjoy reading your responses.

    • The power is real. He’s got a quick bat, he’s strong and the ball carries well for him. He may see a downtick in power in Double-A because that stadium plays very bad for left handed hitters (there’s a cross wind off of Pensacola Bay that pushes everything from right to left, so anything pulled from a lefty has to go further than it normally would as it gets pushed to the gap. And while left field used to play very well in the past because it was both a short distance (325) and everything was pushed to the line because of the crosswind, they moved the fences back 17 feet last year and now it plays very pitcher friendly when it comes to power). But, in the end, the power is there. 15-20 home runs is what I’d expect from him.

      Defensively, he’s not going to wow anyone. But he can handle second base.

  7. Deck McGuire’s age (playing age 28 season at AA) and history scream organizational filler, but his brief time at Pensacola has produced significantly better results in 10 games, all starts, for the Blue Wahoos this season. Is there any reason to view his performance this season as anything more than an outlier or sample size anomoly?

    • At this point, I’d say no. He’s had success in Double-A in the past, in both 2014 and 2015. When he gets to Triple-A, which may not be too far out, then maybe we start looking deeper at it all.

  8. 1. Recognizing it is still early, which 5-10 Reds prospects do you consider to be the most likely possibilities for adding to the 40-man roster in the Fall to protect vis-a-vis next year’s Rule 5 Draft? Thanks.

    • The Reds had better hope that they don’t have to add 5 guys to the 40-man because there won’t be room for everyone. With that said, the guys they need to look at are the high schoolers from the 2013 draft class and the college guys from the 2014 class (not considering any international guys).

      Guys to consider, with the list subject to change as the year progresses:
      Alex Blandino
      Brian Hunter
      Calten Daal
      Evan Mitchell
      Jose Lopez
      Mark Armstrong
      Narciso Crook
      Robert Stock
      Shed Long
      Tyler Mahle
      Zack Weiss

  9. Who would you take Hunter Greene, Mckay or Wright if you had to choose. Obviously 1 of the 3 won’t be there for the Reds but just say you had your choice.

  10. What are the particular issues that Stephenson and Reed are having that are keeping them from being effective (control, pitch selection, etc.)? And why have they been so difficult to fix?

    If Reed and Stephenson can’t make it as starters, how big a blow is that to the Reds rebuilding plans?

    • I wrote about a little bit of what I believe is up with Robert Stephenson yesterday – http://redsminorleagues.com/2017/05/30/time-step-robert-stephenson/

      I do believe there’s more to it than just his sparse usage, as he’s struggled historically for the past few seasons to find consistency. I’ve heard more than a few theories from people inside the organization (and just to fight the rumor mill, because people seem to always bring it up these days, it’s never been that he’s uncoachable).

      Stephenson, undeniably, has the stuff. He’s just inconsistent with it too often. The command is an issue, for sure. Mostly with the fastball, though sometimes it will carry over to the secondary stuff, too. I do think that pitch selection can be predictable at times, but that’s going to happen to most guys when they fall behind in counts. Guys have absolutely destroyed his fastball in his big league career. I don’t think it’s an issue with the pitch itself, but more so location and predictability in when it’s coming.

      I’m glad to see that he’s heading to Triple-A to start. I can’t begin to understand how he was used by Bryan Price this year. It just didn’t make sense.

      With Cody Reed, I think it’s a bit two fold. Last year they figured out he was tipping his pitches and he wound up changing some things mechanically to try and not do that. I don’t believe he’s quite comfortable with them yet, which is why the control problems have been poor for most of the year.

      I also believe that he just doesn’t trust his stuff enough right now.

      If both of those guys fail to impact the rotation, it probably sets them back at least a year in their plan because they’ve then got to wait for, and hope that at least one of Romano, Mahle, Castillo can step up and fill that spot. Fortunately, the Reds have options, legit ones, to fall back on if they need to. Well, unless they continue to just have 9 starters a year go on the disabled list.

    • I honestly don’t know at 32 or 38, unless someone falls down the draft for signability reasons. At #2, I prefer a ceiling. You need difference makers, not solid average guys at that point int he draft. Shoot for the stars. With that said, a guy like Jeren Kendall has a superstar upside, but there’s just too many red flags for me to take him there. While there’s uncertainty with high school guys, Royce Lewis, Austin Beck – those are the kinds of guys you can dream on. Kyle Wright and Hunter Greene are the same kinds of guys on the pitching side.

      Brendan McKay is someone I’d stay away from at #2. The upside just doesn’t seem high enough as a pitcher, and as a hitter, the bat may very well be real, but he’s also seemingly limited to first base, which doesn’t exactly work for the Reds.

    • Names I like for the Reds at 32 and 38 (Guys ranked in the 20-60 range by BA and MLB Pipeline):

      Prep Bats: Drew Waters, Tristen Lutz, Chris Seise, Mark Vientos
      Prep Arms: Hans Crouse, Jacob Heatherly, Hagan Danner, Jake Eder
      College Bats: Brian Miller, Stuart Fairchild, Greg Deichmann, Brent Rooker
      College Arms: Tanner Houck, Nate Pearson, Seth Romero, Drew Rasmussen

      Not a whole lot of difference between the guys ranked between 20 and 70 imo, so a lot depends on who the Reds scouts liked.

      • I like Pearson a lot in the #32-#38 range. I heard on the radio (MLBN) a couple of days ago that he hit 101 and 102 mph in a recent workout for one of the teams.
        Houck could be a nice get at #32, depending on what happens at #2.
        Some people seem to think one or both of Beck and Adell will fall into the 20’s or 30’s. I just don’t see it but will be thrilled if one is there at #32. But those 4 you listed with prep bats are all nice players.
        It is interesting in that you say there isn’t much difference in #20- #70. I agree. That makes the Reds 3d round pick at #77 overall an interesting spot to watch. That #77 spot is not talked about at all. I wonder if any players ranked in the 30’s, 40’s or 50’s will fall to #77? I am sure there will be some.
        The Reds could get some real steals at #2, #32, #38 and #77 if they play there cards right.

  11. Hi Doug. Appreciate all that you do. I enjoy your website quite a bit

    1. Is there a certain date or timeframe in which a prospect is promoted or is it strictly performance based or games played at a certain level? (Rule of thumb type question)

    2. Mahle and Castillo are off to great starts this year. Do either or both of them have what it takes to become an “ace”? If not, what’s their ceiling?

    3. Everyone is pretty certain the Reds will take one of the top 3 pitchers in the draft. If there is a hitter that is something of a “dark horse” pick, which hitter do you think they’ll take and which one would you take?

    • 1. It depends on the kinds of players we are talking about. Starting caliber position players generally get promoted at mid-season (minor league mid-season). Relievers can go whenever they show they are ready. Starting pitchers are generally mid-season types, too, but it also depends on the specific case. When we are talking about teenagers, they almost always spend a full year at the level in which they started. I don’t recall the last time the Reds promoted a teenager from Dayton to the next level within a season. Most teams don’t do that. On a rare occasion when you’ve got a guy that’s highly touted and just destroying things, the Reds will get aggressive. We’ve seen that in the past with guys like Jay Bruce and Yonder Alonso, but it’s rare. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Nick Senzel spend some time late in the year in Triple-A, though if you forced me to bet money on it, I’d bet against that (the second half in Double-A, I’d bet on, though).

      2. Castillo’s got a much better shot because he’s a mid-to-upper 90’s guy with the better secondary stuff when you look at it from a scouting perspective. He’s just not as polished right now as Mahle is. I’ve covered Mahle a few times already in the answers above, so check those out. With Castillo, there are still some questions with him. He’s never thrown a full season of starters innings and he’s 24 this year. He’ll have to show he can go 170, which may or may not happen this year. The secondary stuff needs to be more consistent as well.

      3. Don’t be so certain. The latest Baseball America mock draft has the Reds taking Brendan McKay as a first baseman. http://www.baseballamerica.com/draft/2017-mlb-mock-draft-3-5/#M3i5WDAuVdH5ZvYL.97

      I wouldn’t do that unless the scouts were absolutely, 100% certain he could play the outfield. It doesn’t sound like there are many people out there who believe that he can do that, though. As position players go, I’d rather roll the dice on Austin Beck, then Royce Lewis, before McKay. If Joey Votto didn’t exist, my opinion may be a little different, and I always say go with the best player available, but that’s rarely ever a 1st baseman at the #2 spot in the draft. I haven’t put together my draft board yet, but there’s a clear cut #1 on it: Kyle Wright. After that, I just don’t know. Austin Beck interests me the most from the rest of the group, but I’d be willing to listen long and hard on arguments for Lewis, Adell, Greene and Gore.

    • Had some shoulder stuff pop up. He’s thrown in two games out in Arizona and should be back in the rotation in Louisville very soon (possibly within the next week).

  12. Mr. Doug, thank you for your weekly updates. And for all the information you pass along at your site.
    What happened to SS Alfredo Rodriguez? A .352 BA in May is pretty awesome.
    Was it as simple as moving him into the leadoff spot, or was there something he changed in his approach?
    How does this change your assessment of him and his advancement?

  13. With the way Schebler and Duvall are playing, what do you expect the Reds to do with Jesse Winker? If you had to pick one that the Reds would trade, who would it be?

    What type of return do you expect from a Cozart trade?

    • I’d trade Duvall. Low OBP guy historically, older, but should still bring solid enough value in return. With Winker, I expect them to keep him in Louisville where he’s been working on some mechanical stuff to try and bring out more power.

      It’s too tough to know with the Cozart situation because you can only trade what people need and right now, while Cozart is playing out of his freakin’ mind, there aren’t many teams dying for a shortstop. The team absolutely has to trade him, but they can’t just give him away with how well he’s hitting. They’ve got to be patient and hope something comes up. If he’s doing what he’s doing now, when that happens, they will get a Top 100 caliber prospect back for him. But, he’s always been a guy that slows down as the season goes along, too.

  14. Is Friedl an eventual MLB level CF? If so could he be ready by the time Hamilton is eligible to walk? Where does Trammell fit in eventually and when?

    • The tools are there for him to be, but it’s a very long way from Dayton to Cincinnati. There’s a chance he could be ready by then. Hamilton isn’t a free agent until after the 2019 season.

      Trammell has more than enough speed and range to play center field. But, talking to scouts, they just aren’t sure his arm is enough to play there. If he’s got to slide over to left field, that’s going to cost him some value, though I think the bat will eventually be enough to play there without any issues at all. But, if you can deal with a Johnny Damon kind of arm in center, and he can also hit like I believe he will, then you’ve got a very valuable guy. I’m just not sure the arm is going to be enough to work there.

  15. Seeing lots of Shed Long love here. Looking at his Fangraphs page ( http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=sa738578&position=2B ) it looks like he’s got an abormally high BABIP in A+ both this year and last, especially given his rather elevated IFFB% (19.6% this year, 12.8% in high A last year). His BB/K profile looks like it’s taken a big downturn since moving up from Dayton (particularly looking at his walk rate). Makes me wonder how he’ll handle the move to more advanced pitching in AA and AAA once the time comes.

    I get that he’s showing a lot of power, but are you also concerned with any of these other metrics, Doug? IFFB% in particular stands out to me as being really concerning.

    • I’m far more interested in the strikeout-to-walk ratio than the infield fly ball rates.

      High BABIP in the minors is a common thing. Shed’s got tons of speed and he hits the ball harder, generally, than your typical minor leaguer. Add in that minor league defenses aren’t as good as big league ones and you’re going to see high BABIP’s. That’s going to come down, but that’s fine. No one thinks he’s a .320 hitter at the end of the day in the Majors. He can lose 50 points off of that and still be a very good hitting second baseman.

      With regards to the strikeout-to-walk ratio, he was at 21/6 in April, but 25/10 in May. You generally want better than what he showed in April, but May is in line with what he’s done for the most part of his career.

  16. What are your thoughts on Alfredo Rodriguez so far. He’s almost 23, but he did lose two years of not handling a bat. How would you grade his season so far offensively? Defensively?

    What’s wrong with Aquino?

    Could you talk a little about Mella’s future projection? Is he a likely reliever? If so, would he be a closer?

    • I haven’t seen him since the end of March, but nothing has really changed my opinion since that point in time. You can read what I wrote about him here – http://redsminorleagues.com/2017/03/29/first-impressions-cincinnati-reds-alfredo-rodriguez/

      Defensively, he’s special from what I’ve been told from those who have seen him on a regular basis this season.

      Aquino’s starting to show signs of life over the last few weeks. What was wrong was that he was swinging way too frequently, as he’s done in previous seasons. The pitchers were able to exploit his aggressiveness early on, but he’s started to adjust back and has been hitting better of late.

      Mella’s likely a reliever in the future. When he’s at his best his fastball/breaking ball combo could play at the back of a bullpen. That doesn’t mean he will be that, of course, but the stuff is there to be that kind of guy.

  17. Jesse Winker, future leadoff hitter?

    Do you think Nick Senzel could handle 2b or would he have to move to the OF if blocked? Or would it be better to move Suarez (again)?

    Which other players (besides green and wright) would you rather draft at 2 instead of McKay?

    • 1. Not unless they get a different manager. Very few managers in baseball would bat a non-speedster at leadoff.

      2. I’d move Suarez when Senzel is ready before I’d move Senzel to another spot. Suarez has more experience playing up the middle. But, that’s a question that’s still a year away from being answered, probably.

      3. Austin Beck is the only other guy I’m for sure I’d prefer other than McKay. The options at the top of this draft, generally, just leave me with a lackluster feeling versus the past few years.

  18. What is your pecking order (maybe top 5-6) in terms of potential for both 2B & SS?

    • At shortstop I’d go: Peraza/Alfredo Rodriguez/Vincej/Trahan
      At second I’d go: Long/Herrera

      As noted directly above, though, I’d look at moving Suarez to second when Senzel is ready, though, and he’d move to the front of the line at that point.

  19. 1) Given his small frame, do you think Wennington Romero has any projection left in his fastball? At 88-90 it’s getting hammered if he isn’t pinpointing it where he wants. Still just 19, but he’s a smaller guy. That curveball is for real though.

    2) What’s your take on Chris Okey’s bad start: Slow start plus small sample size, or exposed by more advanced pitching?

    3) Just for fun, if you had to predict an opening day 2020 Reds rotation, which 5 are you going with?

    • 1. There might be a little more in there, but probably not too much. The offspeed stuff will play if he can figure out how to get the fastball to play a little better. He’s going to be one of those “prove it at every level” types, though, because of that.

      2. Wrote about Chris Okey a week ago that got into what I believe is mostly what’s going on – http://redsminorleagues.com/2017/05/24/reds-chris-okey-early-struggles-2017/

      3. In no order: DeSclafani, Garrett, Stephenson, Romano, Guteirrez.

  20. Hey Doug, appreciate your work.

    People have talked about how 2019 is the year the Reds are realistically going to be potential contenders. Would you agree this has changed? With our solid second half numbers last year, solid first half numbers this year despite historically bad starting pitching, and a rumored ~$40m extra spending money ($25m cable contract, $13m phillips) for the offseason, do you see the Reds being bullish in the free agent/trade market this offseason to try and solidify themselves as serious contenders next year? I suppose even without any big moves, a potential rotation of Bailey/Disco/Finnegan/Garrett + Mahle/Romano/Castillo/Reed/Steph is still enough to put them in discussion (I think they would be in first by a long shot even now if those guys were healthy). Assuming Cozart is gone, this takes me to my next question – can Senzel be ready for next Opening Day and can he play 2nd? Even without him, it appears we have some guys capable of taking over 2nd base duties next year (Herrera, Scooter) and we still have a really nice lineup.

    Have we finally turned a corner in the rebuilding phase? Can we finally start talking about when the Reds will be good, rather than if?

    • While the Reds seem to have some money to spend, I don’t think we’re going to see them go out and spend it on a bunch of free agents. Their biggest weakness right now is starting pitching, but that’s only because of injuries. While things could change because of those injuries, I think they’ll hold mostly steady on what they have and try to work with that.

      Even if Senzel could be ready, and I wouldn’t put it past him, I don’t believe that the team would be that aggressive with him. As I noted above, though, I’d move Suarez to second before I’d move Senzel there.

      I think the last question depends on your outlook. If you look at the current rotation and injury situation, you can still be asking if. There are just too many injuries right now to go with too many unproven starting pitchers (even if we do think many of them could be at least solid in the future) to feel completely confident that they will be good with things as they stand right now.

  21. 1) How do you think the Reds work the roster when Bailey, Disco, others come off the 60 day DL (as in, who gets offed of the 40 man, etc)?
    2) As I type this, Adleman has completed 6 innings of 3 run baseball against the Blue Jays. Has he earned himself a spot until someone forces him out? I think Garrett will replace either Bonilla or Wojo, then either Romano, Bailey, Reed replacing the other. He hasn’t been spectacular in his two season with Cincinnati, but he’s been what you’d expect out of a #5.

    3) Unrelated to the Reds – just a baseball question. Why is a flyball out that produces a run counted as a sacrifice for the batter, but a groundball out that has the same end result not counted as one? Just something I’ve been curious about. Two at bats that have the same result (batter out, run in), and one is viewed as “better”

    Thanks!

    • 1. While I don’t think he’ll be the first to go, Bronson Arroyo has to be one of the guys looking over his shoulder for a 40-man spot. Bonilla, Buchanan, Ogando, Wojciechowski have to be the others in contention.

      2. A spot in the rotation, no. A spot in the bullpen as a long man, 6th or 7th inning kind of option? Possibly.

      3. I don’t know, to be honest. But I’ve always thought it was stupid. There’s a lot of weird baseball rules that I don’t like or agree with.

  22. 1) Would you trade any of the Reds good, young hitters for an established Starting Pitcher? It seems like with all the health issues, they should think of every option to improve their starting pitching.

    2) Do you think this is just bad luck that the Reds and Mets have seen in terms of starters getting hurt, or something more to do with the organization?

    3) With someone like Aquino this year in AA, do you let him struggle this year and maybe next year and hope he figures it out or do you think they send him back to +A at any point?

    • 1. I’d trade anyone in the right deal. But I wouldn’t actively be searching to move anyone except Duvall right now. Just not sure I trust that bat at this point versus what it might bring in return.

      2. I don’t know what the Mets situation is in terms of how they’ve handled all of their pitchers over the last few years. I think the Reds have generally had some bad luck, though. They’ve had as many non-throwing arm injuries as they’ve had arm issues that have led to months of missed time.

      3. I guess it depends on how much they are struggling and if they are showing any signs of improvement. But, Aquino’s been showing signs of life for the last three weeks, too.

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